Are You Part of the “Lufthansa Group”?

Lufthansa has given us a room in a 5 star hotel with three full meals and use of the room for the full day, until we need to head over to the airport for the flight. We are still boiling mad from their shoddy treatment of us last night at the airport, and this gesture seems more like a throw-anything-at-the-customer-to-get-them-to-stop-complaining ploy than a concrete attempt at customer service or problem resolution. We soon discover that this gesture has been given to everyone who was bumped from the flight last night. With all the money they are throwing at trying to bandage their lack of service, we wonder how they can stay in business.

Over the course of the day we pass members of our “Lufthansa group” in the halls, restaurants and elevators of our hotel and say “Buenos Aires?” We snort and roll our eyes at each other and although we don’t speak each others’ languages, we understand each other completely.

We meet a couple of guys who are heading to Buenos Aires to judge a major “best in show” cat competition (Dee, the movie Best in Show immediately jumped into my head). They have exactly the same story to tell as we do and at lunch we laugh together, and curse Lufthansa over a nice bottle of wine, on Lufthansa’s tab, of course. We plan to attend the cat show in Buenos Aires and judge the judging work of Louis and Fabrice. They had also been told to get their boarding passes last night, but sitting on the other side of us is another victim of Lufthansa, who was not told to do this. We tell him to go to the airport as soon as he finishes his meal and check-in immediately.

Naps and journaling take up most of the day. We lounge, and read our books, and cry and lament over the results of the U.S. election, nattering away on CNN in our room. We occasionally switch to BBC World for the real perspective on what’s going on. Let me add an even more surreal aspect to this scenario: there are about 150 U.S. Army personnel, in full army fatigues, wandering around the hotel and its facilities on R&R leave. They seem strangely unaware of the election playing out around them but we can guess who it is that they voted for.

We opt for dinner on the plane this evening which will turn out to be a mistake, but more on that later. We catch the shuttle to the airport around 7:30 and literally retrace our steps from last night, carrying the same carry-on bags and wearing the same clothes (we had not gotten our checked bags back last night). It is very disconcerting.

The lounge is filled with the same weary travelers as as last night and we pick out the familiar faces from the hotel, still snorting and rolling our eyes at each other as we wander by to refill our beers or grab the ‘news’-crammed USA Today.

They call our flight and we head down to the gate. All 360 passengers are crushing the gate, trying to be the first one on the plane. We look back at the check-in desk and see angry customers being bumped from this flight. We see our neighbour from lunch talking angrily on the phone. Whatever he says, it works; we see him later on the plane.

The lounge is hot and everyone is cranky. The flight finally leaves almost a half hour late and we settle in for some pampering on the second to last business class flight that we will have in a while. At least we are on the plane!

However, there isn’t a happy ending to this story. We are seated in the back section of two in business class. Food and drink options quickly run out. Service, when there is any, is abrupt and impersonal. There are long waits between courses and nobody returns to fill your wine glass. When we question the service there are many “oh, I am sorry” but no improvement. They speak to us in German for the duration of the flight.

We awake early the next morning to exactly the same service. But wait: the story doesn’t end here………

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